Star Trek's Terry Farrell discusses sex appeal and life as Deep Space Nine's Leading Lady
by: Gregory Goldman
As the sounds of ( the man formerly known as) prince and the New Power Generation blare through the studio's speakers, I'm fixated on a cat-like figure dancing around the room with a child's Chuck E. Cheese smile. She's Terry Farrell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Jadzia Dax, but today I call her Trixie and sometimes Fifi, depending on the particular photograph we're taking.
"Have too many Pop Tarts this morning, dear?"
"Not enough?" Terry answers with a smile.
She skips away to another room and changes her clothes once again, this time emerging in a man's teal suite and a black fedora hat. Her smile is gone and suddenly it becomes clear that the cutesy names I attached to her earlier no longer have any meaning. Dominique or Raven seem to fit better. The happy eyes now narrow to a sultry, seductive stare and something starts to flutter in my stomach. She has stepped right out of a Zalman King film. She has somehow instantly accentuated her cat-like features in a pure transformation that only an actress with experience could create.
That experience has developed over her last several years and culminated in Farrell's current role as Science Officer Jadzia Dax. Dax is an alien known as a Trill, comprised of a 29-year-old body and a 300-year-old wormlike creature living inside that body. Needless to say, this type of character was not easy for Terry to adapt to.
"It took me a while to develop Dax," she explains."When I read her on paper, I didn't think I was very much like her, but I was really hoping that I could bring out the qualities that would do justice to her. The first year, it was really hard for me to contain my personal energy - not to smile too much, not to move around too much. Just the physicality of being in Starfleet, that efficient quality, was not easy for me. But, being that we're in the fourth season, over the years I've discovered a side of me that's serious, too."
Her seriousness manifests itself into the mood she's adopted as she stands before me, striking another pose for the current photo being taken. Her eyes seem to stare at mine, but they're really fixated on a point behind me.
Suddenly, Michael Dorn grabs her and pulls her close to him. They confidently play with one another for the camera, their personable and dynamic attitudes completely contrasting with the serious, almost sexless, characters they both play on DS9. It seems as though Terry could never have found a role so different from the reality of who she really is. But she is successful in finding a common ground with her character , though playing Jadzia Dax has undoubtedly changed her over the last few years.
"It doesn't feel like I supress things so much as I try to bring different things out," says Farrell. "I can't ever let up on that because it has to do with my own personal growth. If I don't keep growing then my acting won't grow and my acting won't get any better, you know - I'll be stagnant. I look at it as a continuous process. Although fortunately with Dax, she usually has several different aspects to her personality that it does a pretty good job of keeping me on my toes, although sometimes I just want to brush that pony-tail out, and put some normal clothes on. That space suite is a little confining."
Even though Terry has to work within the parameters of Dax's 300-year-old personality, her essence as a woman inevitably comes through. Terry has brought something to the Star Trek universe that it has never really had: sex appeal. Of course, Captain Kirk had his alien women, and even The Next Generation wasn't completely devoid of romance, but Terry takes it a step further. Just do a web search under "Star Trek" sometime and observe. There are more Terry Farrell websites, fanclubs, and picture galleries on the Word Wide Web than even Captain Kirk himself would ever have dreamed of. Terry finds this surprising, but is careful not to let Trekker Fanaticism mislead her too much.
"That really makes me feel more secure about my character. I mean, I guess they won't be bumping me off. ( laughs) I like Dax. I've played her a long time now and I would feel bad if people didn't like my character. It's a really hard thing to address. I didn't work on getting that compliment, but I'll take it. I don't know what I'm doing, and if that's what comes across, that's positive. it's such an uncomfortable thing to have somebody say that to you, because it's a matter of opinion. I think people that try to be sexy really aren't sexy - it's a matter of just being yourself. So if you're seeing a little piece of myself up there and you like it, then that's really nice."
Terry elegantly acknowledges the fact that Jadzia Dax's popularity has something to do with her screen presance. But at the risk of sounding cliché', Terry Farrell is far from just another pretty face. The demanding role of Dax testifies to this fact, as does her work outside of Ds9. She has just recently put the wraps on Treasure Quest, a CD-ROM mystery game that boasts a million dollar reward for the first gamer to solve the puzzle. To parallel this, Terry can boast of having played an astounding 10 roles in the game's intricate storyline. It proved to be a difficult task, but she welcomed the challenge.
"It was an opportunity to stretch, not because I was working with another actor, but because it went so fast. I only had four days to work on the parts. The challenge for me was 'What can I do with these characters?' It was a challenge because I got the script at the last minute and I don't feel like I got to work 100% on all the characters, but it was 100% of what I could give at the time. Naturally, if I had a few weeks to work with each character maybe it would have been a little different. Looking into the camera made it easier to be direct, because I didn't have to rely on anybody else, it was just me talking into the camera. It was just myself, the writer, and the creator of the game, Ceris Casper,"
Despite successes such as these, Trek fans needn't worry about losing their favorite female just yet. But Terry's experience has shown has that she has plenty of what it takes to confront her future head-on. Her immediate future rests with Deep Space Nine. After that? Only Terry knows the answer.
"I don't feel like I'm at the end of my road. I'm still trying to discover what's inside of me that I want to come out and what characters I'd like to play. As for proving to myself whether I'm good or not, I think my goal is to continuously grow and to get better, so I guess that you're always proving that in the acting business, the players change, but the games stays the same."